Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Talbuc's Take - Week 3

I don’t want to hear anyone associated with the league’s side of NFL operations saying a damn word about the “integrity of the shield” and that garbage that they like to spew.  This officiating has become an embarrassment and is disgracing the game.  The officiating of the Packers/Seahawks game was an abomination to the sport and got the headlines, but it wasn’t the only shame.  How about the referees in the Lions/Titans game marching off 27 yards for a personal foul instead of 15 because they don’t realize which 44 yard line they’re on?  How about Jim Harbaugh getting 5 timeouts in a half? 

Roger Goodell and his flunkies need to quit bickering with officials over the dollars that are separating the two sides.  Are the “real” NFL officials worth what they’re asking for?  No, but if Mr. Goodell truly cares about the “integrity of the shield” he needs to bring back the professionals, not only for the sake of the league and quality of the product but also for the safety of its players he swears to care for so dearly.  I’m no fool, but if the owners are playing this “they’re still buying the product so who cares” stance, then shame on them.  The bottom line doesn’t always need to be the bottom line.  These unfit officials have already cost one team a victory.  How long until their ineptitude is the cause of a significant injury?  Why do we need to wait until something horrible happens before we fix the problem?  Get it together NFL!

AFC East
Through three weeks there are two 2-1 teams in the AFC East, and neither of them resides in Foxboro.  Those top teams, the Jets and Bills, both won on the scoreboard but lost personnel, one quite more significant than the other.  The Jets lost All Pro corner Darrelle Revis for the season to an ACL injury in a non-contact situation.  I don’t think there’s a player on their roster whose loss makes a greater impact to their team.  They’ll be thoroughly tested these next two weeks when they host the 49ers and Texans in back to back games.  I highly doubt they’ll still be atop the division after the conclusion of those contests…..Buffalo experienced their loss when CJ Spiller went down in the first quarter with a shoulder injury.  Unlike Revis, who is lost for the season, Spiller’s injury isn’t expected to sideline him for long.  Still, this is an offense already without Fred Jackson that gets to host a pissed off Patriots team Sunday.  Jackson could be back as early as this week, and while the Bills want to lean on the run game, it’s nice consolation to know that Ryan Fitzpatrick is tied for the league lead with 8 TDs through the first three games…..New England is 1-2 in the standings and below .500 for the first time since 2003.  I don’t think they have any uncorrectable problems, but they definitely need to be making more plays on defense – 2 INTs and a meager 3 sacks through three games.  They also need to move on from this Welker contract drama and throw the guy the football.  He didn’t go from one of the league’s better producers to Julian Edelman’s rightful backup overnight.  Oh and Bill Belichick chasing and grabbing one of the officials after the game is an image I won’t soon forget…..Then there’s Miami.  Not to be left out, the Dolphins had an “oh damn” moment of their own Sunday when Reggie Bush left the game with a knee injury.  Bush thinks he’ll be back this week, but this 1-2 team can’t afford to be without their best (by far) offensive player for any significant stretch. 

AFC North
It took 8 months, but the Ravens got their championship game revenge and sit atop the North, tied with the Bengals at 2-1.  I don’t know if I could have found the give-a-damn to strap on shoulder pads after the loss of a family member, but Torrey Smith did and couldn’t have given his brother a better tribute.  After going through an experience I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, the Ravens receiver was the star of the game, catching 6 passes for 127 yards and 2 TDs.  Way to go Torrey!  The wannabe refs were at the center of this one, ruling that a Justin Tucker that sailed over the top of the right upright, was indeed good.  See how easy that was Billy Cundiff?  If I’m worry about anything with the Ravens it’s that they’re struggling to generate much of a pass rush outside of Haloti Ngata.  Courtney Upshaw hasn’t gotten off to a hot start, and Paul Kruger has been invisible…..The Bengals got a big win at Washington, with Andy Dalton throwing for over 300 yards for the second week in a row.  He also tossed 3 TDs, but the highlight heave of the day was Mohamed Sanu’s deep strike to AJ Green.  A big positive for Dalton is that he had completions of at least 20 yards to give different receivers.  Even though it was on the road, the Bengals need to keep their foot on the accelerator in games like this.  After getting out to a 24-7 lead last in the 2nd quarter, Cincinnati allowed 17 straight points to even the game before Dalton tossed two more TDs.  Their upcoming schedule sets up nicely with games against the Jags, Dolphins, and Browns.  Now is the time to rack up the victories…..  I know it’s not easy to travel out west and head home with a win, but the Steelers have no excuse for letting the Raiders drop them to 1-2.  They gave up 34 points in this loss and have surrendered 65 total points in their two defeats.  They’re also having trouble establishing any semblance of a ground game.  Yes the offensive line is banged up yet again, but Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer have combined for 142 rushing yards on 54 carries or 98 less yards than Antonio Brown has on his 18 receptions.  Ben Roethlisberger has carried this team before, but I’m not sure he can do it for an entire 16 games…..Bringing up the rear is one of the league’s two remaining winless teams.  On the positive side, their three losses are by a combined 18 points.  On the negative side, Trent Richardson followed up his 109 yard game against the Bengals with 27 against the Bills, Brandon Weeden is tied for the league lead with 6 INTs, and their next three games are against the Ravens, Giants, and Bengals. 

AFC South
Did I call that one right or what?  The Texans totaled 436 yards against the Broncos, and JJ Watt got 2.5 sacks of Peyton Manning.  If you take away the two garbage time TDs Denver scored down 20, the Texans’ total yards allowed doesn’t look so bad.  These guys are clicking in all phases right now.  Not even losing part of an earlobe can keep Matt Schaub off the field.  If they didn’t have believers after trashing the Dolphins and Jaguars, folks took notice after this one.  They’ll have two more tune ups against the Titans and Jets before hosting the Packers and Baltimore prior to their week 8 bye.  If they’re not 5-0 when Green Bay comes to town I’ll be shocked…..I think the rest of the division has already been eliminated from postseason contention.  The Jaguars got their first win last week against the Colts.  Maurice Jones-Drew had his first big game of the year, rushing for 177 yards and a TD.  I still think the Jags are horrible, but this week’s matchup against the Bengals will give us the truest evaluation of this team in my opinion….. The Titans escaped from that circus of a matchup against the Lions with their first win of the year.  I don’t see the excitement lasting long with an upcoming trip to Houston this Sunday.  Chris Johnson is still absolutely awful, “spearheading” the worst rushing game in the league.  Mr. CJ2K has 45 yards on 33 carries.  I don’t care how bad your blocking is.  That’s pathetic.  Speaking of pathetic, the Titans rank among the worst in football defensively against both the run and pass.  This defense wasn’t supposed to be gangbusters this season, but they weren’t supposed to get rolled over each week.  So far, teams are averaging 38 points per game against these guys.  Not good…..Indianapolis gets a week to heal up from the first three games and plan for the Packers.  I like the chemistry Andrew Luck has developed with Reggie Wayne.  The veteran receiver ranks 4th and 5th in football in receptions and receiving yards respectively.  Defensively, they’ve played better against the pass than I expected, but teams are still running on them rather easily. 

AFC West
San Diego sits alone atop the division, but color me unimpressed.  Sure they’re 2-1, but they got smoked in their only tough matchup, a 27-3 beating at home against the Falcons.  Ryan Mathews saw his first action of the regular season but didn’t make a difference in the game.  The 3 points were the fewest scored by the Chargers during either Norv Turner’s or Philip Rivers’ tenure.  Rivers didn’t handle the Falcons’ pressure well, completing a little more than half of his passes and throwing 2 INTs.  Per ESPN, Rivers was 6 of 14 with both of his INTs on plays where the Falcons rushed 5 or more guys.  I’ll believe in them a bit more if they can beat the Chiefs in KC…Speaking of those Chiefs, they got their first win of the year at the Saints’ expense.  Jamaal Charles busted out with 233 yards on the ground and a TD, helping put the Chiefs atop the NFL in rushing after three weeks.  Matt Cassel is still Matt Cassel.  Even against a really bad Saints’ defense, Cassel couldn’t complete 60% of his passes or throw a TD.  He is SOOOO holding this offense back.  A guy of whom I’m a huge fan and advocated the Bucs drafting last year, Justin Houston, exploded for 3 sacks of Drew Brees, giving him 4 on the season.  He’s exactly what the Chiefs are looking for in a pass rusher opposite Tamba Hali…..The Broncos were taken to the woodshed against the Texans, and questions about Peyton Manning’s potential as a passer are starting to pop up.  Through 3 games, Blaine Gabbert, Russell Wilson, Carson Palmer, Jake Locker, and Ryan Fitzpatrick all have a higher passer rating than Manning.  After a solid week one against the Steelers, he’s had two subpar games against what I believe to be great teams.  I’m not hitting the panic button yet on Manning.  Remember, in addition to the neck issue, he’s trying to implement a new offense with new personnel.  I like his chances against the Raiders this week.....That Oakland team followed up a very disappointing road showing against the Dolphins with a home win against the Steelers.  They get a thumbs up for that performance, but I still don’t believe in this team.  Darren McFadden had his best rushing game of the season (18-113), but if you take away his 64 yard TD run, he averaged less than 3 yards per carry.  I’m not a fan of Carson Palmer at this stage of his career, and losing Darrius Heyward-Bey for who knows how long to a neck injury isn’t helping the offense. 

NFC East
I wondered how the Giants would bounce back on a short week after a dramatic comeback win at home against the Bucs in week two.  Question answered.  The Giants rolled down to Carolina and whipped Cam Newton and his Panthers all over the field all night.  Eli Manning continued to show why he’s one of the best QBs and leaders in the game of football.  Now he didn’t have a statistical explosion, but he did such a great job of consistently leading his team down the field for scoring opportunities and exploiting weaknesses and mismatches in the defense.  I love how he adjusts at the line.  Andre Brown had quite the game in Ahmad Bradshaw’s absence, rushing for 113 yards and 2 TDs.  Brown is easily the hardest runner on the roster and will make things interesting when Bradshaw is ready to return.  Martellus Bennett seems to be a great fit for this offense.  The free agent TE scored in his third straight game and continues to draw a ton of targets from Eli.  I really like where this team is right now.....Philly is up next for the champs.  The Eagles were pretty much pushed around by the Cardinals, a team with an underrated defense.  Can Michael Vick eliminate the mental mistakes and keep the Eagles on the right side of .500?  Will the Eagles make a concerted effort to make LeSean McCoy the focus of the offense?  In my opinion they won’t win consistently unless they do.  I’m not big on this team, and despite the 2-1 record, they’re 4 points from being 0-3.  I don’t see them being any better than .500 after these next three games (Giants, Steelers, Lions).  I must compliment their pass defense though.  No, Brandon Weeden and Kevin Kolb are world beaters, but in addition to holding them both in check, they gave Joe Flacco his toughest game of the year so far…..Dallas got a home win against the Bucs, but it wasn’t quite the bounce back from the Seattle loss that you’d look for from a playoff contender.  They had only two three-play drives on the day, but they started in Tampa territory on their two first half scoring drives.  They didn’t do much when they had to create on their own.  They also got lucky when a call went their way, hosing the Bucs out of a TD on a play where Tony Romo got pancaked and fumbled.  I’m not impressed with this team so far.  How do they do Monday night against a comparably dysfunctional Bears team?.....Bringing up the rear are the 1-2 Redskins, fresh of a bitter home loss to the Bengals.  RGIII is getting a ton of (rightful) publicity, but I’m not buying the Redskins as a team.  Is Alfred Morris a true primary ball carrier?  Can Pierre Garcon get healthy, and can anyone establish himself as a legit option in Garcon’s absence?  Fred Davis is having a disappointing start but leads the team with 11 receptions.  They’re awful against the pass, as I said they’d be, and have surrendered back-to-back 300+ yard passing games to Sam Bradford and Andy Dalton.  What will Eli and Romo do against these guys?

NFC North
Jay Cutler didn’t have a great personal bounce back from the Green Bay drama game, but the Bears won a convincing 23-6 contest against the Rams.  On defense they’re doing a great job of getting to the passer with just their front four, freeing up the rest of the defense to shut down receivers and create turnovers.  They intercepted Sam Bradford twice (one for a pick-6), sacked him six times, and held the Rams to 160 total yards on offense.  Michael Bush did a decent job in Matt Forte’s absence but missed the entire fourth quarter with what appears to be a shoulder injury.  Keep an eye on that…..Easily the surprise of week three, the Vikings took care of the Niners 24-13 in a game they controlled throughout.  Hats off to the Vikings for playing one hell of a football game.  Christian Ponder did a great job of controlling the game; throwing for 2 TDs, rushing for another, and most importantly, not turning the ball over.  The fact that they were able to hand the ball to Adrian Peterson 25 times tells you that they were playing the type of game they wanted to play.  Percy Harvin continues to be a target monster, catching 9 more passes for 89 yards.  I’m interested to see how much of a boost Jerome Simpson provides the offense with upon his return from suspension.  Chad Greenway showed why he’s considered one of football’s better backers totaling 10 tackles and 2 sacks on the day.  How will they respond this week in Detroit against a disappointed Lions team?.....Wow, it took me three teams to finally get to the Packers.  It wouldn’t have though had the pop warner fill in officials know the rules of football prior to taking the field.  Simultaneous catch my ass.  Golden Tate simultaneously caught that ball like I simultaneously drive a cab from the back seat or how I simultaneously fly a plane from row 33.  What an awful awful embarrassment for the NFL.  The Packers aren’t blameless in this.  Where’s the explosive offense from last year?  Where are the big plays and rhythm?  Shock jocks like to laugh at Aaron Rodgers and his offensive line for the 8 first half sacks, but what they didn’t mention is how Seattle’s secondary was straight abusing Packers receivers all game.  Rodgers isn’t an indecisive guy who just holds onto the football.  Now they get the winless Saints at home.  The Packers have to bounce back from that screwjob and take care of business…..The Lions definitely did NOT take care of business in Tennessee last Sunday.   Talk about your strange games.  The Titans/Lions matchup featured a horribly executed penalty mark off, a hail mary tip and catch for TD, and bad bad bad execution from the Lions on the last play of the game.  I said I didn’t trust this team in my season preview, and they’re not proving me wrong.  They barely beat a decent Rams team, got smoked in San Fran, and looked inept throughout at Tennessee.  They’ll still be in the basement next week if they don’t bring their A-game this Sunday against the Vikings. 

NFC South
Atlanta was the only NFC South team to win in week 3.  They’re also one of only two remaining unbeaten teams in the league.  I said I had big thoughts for this team in 2012, and I’m not wrong so far.  They have a QB who is stepping firmly into his prime, two receivers who can beat anyone on any given Sunday, a future HOF’er at TE who is still one of the best in the business, a young RB (above) who is going to be a huge factor before all is said and done, and an aggressive, physical defense.  I love the way this team is set up.  I think they’re one pass rusher away from being a complete football team.  They get the Panthers at home this week, and given their success in the Georgia Dome, I expect the Falcons to be undefeated come Monday…..No one is looking like a threat to the Falcons at the moment.  Sitting tied for second are the Bucs and Panthers.  Tampa Bay lost more than the game at Dallas.  They lost their best pass rusher in the process.  Adrian Clayborn will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL, leaving Michael Bennett and Gerald McCoy as the team’s only serious pass rushers.  Expect offenses to key even more on those two the rest of the way.  Those two are having tremendous seasons, as is MLB Mason Foster, a guy I was big on replacing this offseason.  I’m glad he’s proving me wrong; showing that he can be a strong NFL MLB.  I’ve got to see more from this offense though.  They look very vanilla on this side of the ball, and I worry about their ability to post points in a hurry when the situation presents itself…..If I’m Carolina I’m extremely worried about Cam Newton.  I said it right when I saw the play on tv, and I’m glad to hear it echoed by the shock jocks this week.  I’m sorry bubba, but we don’t celebrate TDs when we’re getting our asses kicked.  After a 1 yard TD, Newton got up and did his superman thing and showed everyone just where his head is.  It’s about him, not the team, and that’s something that would really bother me if I’m a Panther player.  They had no answer defensively for anything the Giants wanted to do and will continue to struggle against teams that have the ability to consistently move the football.  I believe those who were looking for the Panthers to take it to the next level this season were quite premature…..Wow, the Saints are actually 0-3.  That was a piss poor performance this past Sunday against the Chiefs.  You’re up 11 at the half at home against a Matt Cassel-led offense, and you get outscored 14-0 for the rest of the game.  Shame shame Saints.  This might be the worst defense in football.  They’re getting run over week in week out like a slow squirrel.  This group is going to slow down the Packers?  What an awful start for New Orleans.

NFC West
I’m really not sure where to go with this.  In one of the worst calls in the history of pro sports, the Packers were absolutely jobbed out of a win, and the Seahawks improved to 2-1 on the year.  Get rid of these bums now!  If I play defense in the NFL, I want to be on the Seahawks.  That crowd absolutely fulfills the role of 12th man, making it extremely difficult for opposing offenses to focus and communicate.  I love this defense.  Chris Clemons destroyed the Packers blockers for 4 sacks, and both Brandon Mebane and rookie Bruce Irvin added two apiece.  That secondary is physical and does a great job of taking advantage of the inept replacement refs.  Russell Wilson put the first headline in his scrapbook after this one.  Wilson doesn’t light up the stat sheet, but he’s not a game manager, someone trying not to lose a football game (see Tarvaris Jackson).  He just doesn’t have a lot to work with at receiver.  I like this team a lot and still feel pretty good about my prediction of them winning the West…..Ok, so they’re not unbeatable.  The Niners pride themselves on being able to run the ball at will offensively and shut down the other team’s run game defensively.  Well none of that happened Sunday at Minnesota.  It’s not like they were awful offensively.  Minnesota simply made more plays, especially the big ones.  No, it’s not time to panic.  The Niners didn’t head back west after the game but instead remained on east side prior to this week’s matchup at the Jets.  I fully expect a bounce back Sunday…..The West has two feel good story teams.  Arizona took it to the Eagles from the first whistle to the last whistle in a 27-6 butt whoopin’.  QB Kevin Kolb was efficient, threw for 2 TDs, and didn’t turn the ball over.  Ryan Williams got the bulk of the carries and averaged 6.4 yards per.  There was a Larry Fitzgerald sighting too.  The All Pro had easily his best game of the year so far, catching 9 passes for 114 yards and a score.  The story of this one though is the defense.  These guys are strong at every level.  Daryl Washington is having the breakout season I predicted, and that secondary refuses to give up big plays.  They’ve yet to allow an opposing team to reach 20 points.  I didn’t believe much in this team in the preseason, and as good a story as they are, I’ve got to wonder if the defense can carry a lacking offense for an entire season.  I’m not ready to jump on the Kevin Kolb bandwagon yet is what I’m saying I guess…..St. Louis simply isn’t making strides.  They lack big play ability on offense and don’t close out enough drives defensively.  The talent is absolutely there on the defensive side of the ball to carry a weak offense through short stretches, but they have got to get better offensively.  They get the hot Seahawks and Cardinals in their next two game and look to avoid falling even further behind in a surprisingly competitive NFC West.

Best and Worst

Elite Eight
1 – Houston Texans (4)
2 – San Francisco 49ers (1)
3 – Atlanta Falcons (5)
4 – Baltimore Ravens (3)
5 – Green Bay Packers (2)
6 – New York Giants (8)
7 – New England Patriots (6)
8 – Seattle Seahawks (NR)

Out – Denver Broncos (7)

Funk Bunch
1 – Jacksonville Jaguars (1)
2 – Cleveland Browns (2)
3 – Oakland Raiders (3)
4 – Miami Dolphins (4)
5 – Indianapolis Colts (6)
6 – St. Louis Rams (NR)

Out – Minnesota Vikings (7)

Top Performers

QB –
Ben Roethlisberger – 36/49, 384 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs, 123.2 QBR
Joe Flacco – 28/39, 382 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 117.7 QBR
Andy Dalton – 22/46, 328 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 132.9 QBR
Matt Ryan – 30/40, 275 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 107.8 QBR
Matt Schaub – 17/30, 290 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, 115.3 QBR, 1 mangled ear
Jake Locker – 29/42, 378 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 113 QBR; 4 rushes, 35 yards

RB –
Jamaal Charles – 33 car, 233 yards, 1 TD, 6 rec, 55 yards
Andre Brown – 20 car, 113 yards, 2 TDs, 3 rec, 17 yards
Ray Rice – 20 car, 101 yards, 1 TD, 5 rec, 49 yards
Maurice Jones-Drew – 28 car, 177 yards, 1 TD, 2 rec, 16 yards
Mikel Leshoure – 26 car, 100 yards, 1 TD, 4 rec, 34 yards
Darren McFadden – 18 car, 113 yards, 1 TD, 2 rec, 2 yards
Arian Foster – 25 car, 105 yards, 1 rec, 3 yards

WR –
Torrey Smith – 6 rec, 127 yards, 2 TDs
AJ Green – 9 rec, 183 yards, 1 TD
Calvin Johnson – 10 rec, 164 yards, 1 TD
Mike Wallace – 8 rec, 123 yards, 1 TD
Larry Fitzgerald – 9 rec, 114 yards, 1 TD
Santonio Holmes – 9 rec, 147 yards
Ramses Barden – 9 rec, 138 yards

Chad Greenway – 10 tackles, 2 sacks
Akeem Ayers – 10 tackles, 1 sack
Chris Clemons – 4 sacks, 4 tackles
JJ Watt – 2.5 sacks, 6 tackles
Michael Johnson – 3 sacks, 5 tackles
Justin Houston – 3 sacks, 3 tackles
DeMarcus Ware – 2 sacks, 2 FF, 2 tackles
Thomas DeCoud – 2 INTs, 3 tackles

Worst Performers

QB –
Sam Bradford – 18/35, 152 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 39.2 QBR
Josh Freeman – 10/28, 110 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 45.2 QBR
Cam Newton – 16/30, 242, 0 TDs, 3 INTs, 40.6 QBR
Philip Rivers – 21/38, 173 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 45.2 QBR
Ryan Tannehill – 16/36, 196 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 50.2 QBR

RB –
Chris Johnson – 14 car, 24 yards, 0 TDs
Willis McGahee – 12 carries, 36 yards, 0 TDs
Shonn Greene – 19 car, 40 yards, 0 TDs
Doug Martin – 19 car, 53 yards, 0 TDs
DeMarco Murray – 18 car, 38 yards, 1 TD
BenJarvus Green-Ellis – 17 car, 38 yards, 1 TD, 1st career lost fumble

WR –
Vincent Jackson – 1 catch, 29 yards
Jordy Nelson – 2 catches, 19 yards
Justin Blackmon – 1 catch, 7 yards
Jason Witten – 2 catches, 8 yards
Sidney Rice – 1 catch, 22 yards
Brandon LaFell – 1 catch, 27 yards
Demaryius Thomas – 3 catches, 34 yards 

No comments:

Post a Comment